2 Timothy 3: ‘Be Constant’
E W Rogers, Oxford
We have labelled this chapter "be constant" because of the exhortation in verse 14. The taunt of many that we have submitted ourselves to the teaching of our mothers and our grandmothers is apt to injure our personal pride and our desire to be regarded as independent thinkers. We are prone, therefore, to cast overboard our early training. But Paul exhorts Timothy to continue in the things which he had learned and been assured of. He had not only been taught them but, by personal examination, had assured himself of their veracity. Why then abandon them? Lois, Eunice and Paul had been his early tutors. From his childhood he had been acquainted with the "sacred writings" (J.N.D.: "sacred letters") and he is enjoined now to continue.
The Holy Scriptures are the infallible guide which is bequeathed by Paul to Timothy and to us all. They are sacred in nature. As to their capacity, they are able to make one wise to salvation (salvation in the most comprehensive sense, both present and future). They are Christocentric and designed to inculcate faith in the Lord Jesus. In origin, they are God-breathed; men from God spake as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit. In utility, they are profitable for teaching, rebuke, correction and training in righteousness. Their purpose is that the man of God may be perfect, complete, up-to-date, fitted out for every good work.
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God", that is, is warm with His very breath; hence Scripture has today as much power as when it was first uttered. The translation of this verse has been the subject of much discussion and we shall not reconsider the subject here. Our preference is for the A.V., though one would never dare to say that the R.v. "Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable . . ." is wrong. It all depends how one interprets the word "scripture", whether exclusively of the Holy Bible or whether more extensively of "writing" in general. In Scripture itself the word "scripture" is only used for the sacred writings, but Paul's statement here is so worded that it embraces what we now call the New Testament, as well as the Old, and certainly, however we translate it, excludes all uninspired writings (uninspired by God, that is).-
The Last Days. This chapter commences with a reference to the "last days". Though this term may apply particularly to the last phase of the present period just prior to the return of the Lord Jesus, 1 John 2. 18 shows clearly that it may be interpreted to embrace our own present era. It is clear from verse 5 that Timothy was living in them. . Their features show that the decalogue would be spurned. Men infringed the first item by loving themselves rather than God. They infringed the third by being blasphemers; the fifth by being disobedient to parents; the seventh by being unholy; the ninth by slander; the tenth by being covetous. If Romans 1 describes heathendom, this describes spurious Christianity which retains a religious form but in practice denies its power. Like Jannes and Jambres, such people resist the truth, their minds are corrupted, and as regards the faith they are altogether spurious (counterfeit). They are false religionists who prey upon the guilty consciences of silly women, creeping into their houses knowing that they will listen to anybody, though they never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Paul is assured that, like as these ancient magicians were halted and their folly exposed, so it will be with these deceiving teachers (see Exodus 7. 8-12; 9. 11). The action of Elymas the sorcerer should be compared with all this, Acts 13. 8.
Paul reminds Timothy of what his own behaviour had been, which was in strong contrast to this. His had been a life of persecution, suffering, endurance and deliverance. He could promise nothing better either for Timothy or for any who would wish to live godly in Christ Jesus. In fact things will gradually get worse and worse, and evil men will increasingly deceive others while they themselves are also being deceived. The godly would more and more find a strong tide of opposition to them. Notwithstanding, Timothy should continue and not allow himself to be deflected.
Paul not infrequently called attention to himself, aware that his conduct had pleased the Lord and had set a worthy example for others to imitate, v. 10. Paul had proved the truth of Psalm 34. 19. Read also Matthew 16. 24 and Acts 14. 22.